Our Shades of Brown & Blended Families

So lately we've been a lot more involved in community organizing and since the kids are getting older we decided to start bringing them along to make sure we are not neglecting them in the process of helping others or creating spaces that we would like to think help others. Sometimes it's frustrating because they are kids and when we are at a meeting that is not kid-friendly they get bored.

Most of the time before meetings that both my partner and I are attending, we decide whose in charge of the kids for the meeting: this includes entertainment, food and taking them out of the room if they are having a tantrum. Usually the system works well, but I have noticed that when it's my male-identified parner's turn he seems to get more compassion and help. Like people literally say, "oh can I help you!" or "I can hold him for you." When it's me, it's definitely more expected. Even if I'm in the middle of talking or essential to the planning process. 

Sometimes I get looks, you know the looks that say, "aren't you gonna get up and help this poor man?" I used to respond to these quickly and get up and take over but recently I kinda look back and smile and continue whatever I am doing. We have a plan and being a parent isn't easy so I know he'll figure it out. Anyway that's another post in itself :) 

In this work we meet a lot of new people but we also encounter people from our past. Last week Andrei was sad and told me: "Mom, why does everyone call Adrian, little Isaac?" "Am I little Isaac too?" I felt a little jab in my stomach and all the times people call baby Adrian little Isaac in from of Andrei flooded into my head.

The other day some random friend of Isaac's said, "Oh wait these are your kids? But the youngest one is the only one that is really yours, right?" I looked over at him, like WTF. Cause really who says that to a family of brothers and sisters?

Andrei and Baby Adrian have different biological fathers. 

I guess a solution would be keeping them home away from it but what's the strength in that? Cause let's face it. We are a blended family and we can't pretend we are not. Truthfully here in our home there are no differences. But recently, I can tell the kids are starting to defy and question our family structure. I hear them asking questions based on the way they are treated by adults outside the home. Extended family, friends and community members. 

A while ago, Nati told me, "Mom, why do _______* always say Adrian is dark? He's just really dark brown. I don't care what they say he looks like me!" I didn't address it because I didn't know how. 

Many of the people that make these comments are family, how do you tell them, "Hey! Your being a jerk," without being a jerk yourself? 

So, if your reading this and you haven't checked the language you use around children because you assume they are not smart or they don't understand that you are being prejudiced, well guess what, kids do understand. Sometimes, they understand more than us adults understand because they are not biased or tainted by adult perceptions. They are little people that have the same thought processes, and whose adult influence affects learning structures, identity and understanding.

Anyway suggestions and comments are readily accepted :) 

Personally, I never thought shades of brown would cause issues in blended family. I always assumed it would be other stuff.

* left out names because it would be mean to call them out. But the kids know and remember and it does hurt their feelings to be treated differently because they look different or have different dads. 


Anonymous said…
Love it! :) but yess ppl can be so rude and ignorant sad that it happens even with in family. I hate it when ppl assume Hispanics are "brown" we come in all shades like u say:) but all we can do is educate ppl.

<3 kArO
D. on the Spot said…
All you can do Is TEAch them to be better then that, to never judge another by the way they look, but by the people they are...I know in our societies nothing seems fair at times, but its harder when our close families are the ones making comments that affect us in this case your litte ones in such a hard way. If I were you I would just talk to the ones making such comments that are affecting your kids. I have 5 children of whom 3 of them have colored eyes....the other two have brown eyes just like me....and it always comes up how they look so much more like my husbands family...ONe Aunt in particular will say i think both your girls are beautiful, but Dulce (My green eyed princess) She is definetly the prettiest, she does not mind saying it in front of my Hazel who is my (brown eye baby). I dislike this so much in fact i rarely hang around their house. Some people I think don't really think before they speak and I noticed with our Latino culture how its something so desire to have a lighter complexion, colored eyes, and we as Latinos can sometimes be a bit racist, when it comes to our shades of brown, we come in all shapes, sizes and colors, we should just learn to embrace that and not look down on our shades of brown.
People can be so completely clueless and/or insensitive. You're an amazing mother and it shows. I was lucky enough to never be exposed to this "skin color" mindset within my family. Brown is beautiful, whether dark, light, or somewhere in between. The browner, the better.
It is amazing how children are always listening, even when they look like they are miles away engrossed in something else! And then there are the more direct comments... my daughter had to deal with being told she was the colour of poo recently, charming! I suppose we cannot teach them to counter every comment, only to feel good in their skin and then they will always be tougher than the silly remarks ;-)

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